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Tales From a 4 Billion Year Old Piece of Mars...On Earth

Close up of an ALH 84001 fragment

Air Date: 02/03/2015
Run Time: 28:50

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  • Mark Thiemens, Professor and Dean, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California San Diego
  • Robina Shaheen, Project Scientist, University of California San Diego

Topics: meteorites, asteroids, FY2016 NASA Budget, Planetary Radio, Dawn, Mars, asteroid 1 Ceres, Bill Nye

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Robina Shaheen and Mark Thiemens tell us how an ancient Mars meteorite has revealed much about the red planet. Mat holds a tiny fragment of the rock in their UC San Diego lab. Emily Lakdawalla marvels at the best ever images of dwarf planet Ceres, largest object in the vast asteroid belt. Bill Nye says there’s good news for NASA in the new federal budget. Get your flu shot before you listen to this week’s What’s Up segment.

Host Mat Kaplan holds a tiny piece of famed Mars meteorite ALH 84001
Host Mat Kaplan holds a tiny piece of famed Mars meteorite ALH 84001
Close up of an ALH 84001 fragment
Close up of an ALH 84001 fragment
Some of the analysis equipment in the UCSD Stable Isotope Lab
Some of the analysis equipment in the UCSD Stable Isotope Lab
Being watched...
Being watched...
Mark Thiemens and Robina Shaheen keep a wary eye on Mat Kaplan as he grips a piece of ALH 84001 with forceps.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prize is a stylish Planetary Radio t-shirt!

This week's question:

What are the proper names of the two stars in Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) that point to the North Star?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, February 10 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Ceres, Pallas and Vesta are the largest asteroids. What is the fourth largest asteroid?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

Of the five currently IAU-recognized dwarf planets, which has the longest orbital period or year, and how long is that year?


Eris is the officially-recognized dwarf planet with the longest orbital period, a year lasting in the range of 558 to 564 years.


No trivia contest spoilers please!

John: 02/03/2015 01:46 CST

That Kaplan guy ... ya gotta watch him like a hawk!

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